Lupin founder Desh Bandhu Gupta dies at 79

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Mumbai: Desh Bandhu Gupta, founder and chairman of drugmaker Lupin Ltd, died on Monday morning in Mumbai at the age of 79, said a statement issued by the company. He is survived by his wife and five children.

“We are deeply saddened by the demise of our father early this morning. What DBG (Desh Bandhu Gupta) put in motion 50 years ago in helping to create, innovate and lead in the pharmaceutical space is an unparalleled legacy,” Vinita Gupta, chief executive officer, and Nilesh Gupta, managing director of Lupin, said in a joint statement.

“Those who knew and worked with DBG remember him giving generously and fostering a dynamic environment where people could learn and grow. We will continue to build on his legacy and live by the values he instilled,” they said.

Born in Rajgarh, Rajasthan, Gupta earned a master’s degree in chemistry and started his career as an associate professor at Birla Institute of Technology and Science at Pilani in Rajasthan.

In an interview to Marwar India magazine in January 2016, Gupta said he moved to Mumbai with his wife in the early 1960s and worked in a British pharmaceutical firm called May & Baker for few years. “Armed with my conviction and everything I had learned and imbibed as a teacher and a student, I decided to begin my own business,” he said.

He founded Lupin in 1968 with a capital of just Rs5,000, which he borrowed from his wife Manju; the staff comprised a peon-cum-packer and a part-time typist.

The company was named after the Lupin flower, known to nourish the land and the soil it grows in. The flower is tolerant of infertile soils, capable of pioneering change in barren and poor climes, and the flower and bean pods have also long been used as food and sources of nourishment, thus protecting and nurturing life.

His vision was to make quality medicines for life-threatening diseases and hence he chose to combat tuberculosis, which killed a large number of people in India.

“D.B. Gupta was one of the pillars of Indian pharma industry. He did some great work in the field of TB drugs in his early days. He was a remarkable entrepreneur, very hands on and very driven but would always consider the social impact of his work,” said G.V. Prasad, chief executive officer of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd.

Over the years he steered Lupin from a domestic pharmaceutical company to the fourth largest generic drugs maker by market capitalization in the world today.

“When I founded Lupin over 48 years ago, the goal was simple: to manufacture and deliver quality, affordable medicines of the highest national and social priority. It has been the core principle and guiding philosophy behind everything we have undertaken and achieved over now close to five decades,” Gupta had said in the company’s annual report for financial year 2015-16.

According to the Forbes India billionaires list, Gupta’s real-time net worth was $3.6 billion as on Monday.

In recent years, Gupta spearheaded restructuring of Lupin’s operations, and its research and innovation programmes for new drugs and novel drug delivery systems.

“He was passionate about technology and innovation,” said Shakti Chakraborty, a former group president of India business at Lupin. “He had a quest for ideas and would listen to any idea, even if it sounded absurd,” Chakraborty recalled.

Chakraborty, who worked at Lupin for 17 years, said empathy for people and positive attitude were Gupta’s biggest virtues. “He was an epitome of positivity. Even in the weakest times, he would be supercharged with positivity. He was a dreamer and believed in his dreams.”

A firm believer in the concept of holistic development, Gupta set-up Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation in 1988 to eradicate poverty by encouraging sustainable development at the grass root level in rural India. His efforts have led to a positive impact on the lives of 2.8 million families in 3,463 villages across India.